Mexico: 22 Americans among dead in drug-related mass graves
FBI aiding in border area investigation
November 30, 1999
EL PASO, Texas (CNN) -- More than 100 people, including 22 Americans, are believed to have been killed by a Mexican drug cartel and buried on two ranches near the border city of Juarez, Mexican authorities said Tuesday.
The FBI is sending agents and forensic experts to the area, south of El Paso, Texas, to help dig up and identify the remains.
Mexico's Attorney General Jorge Madrazo said the victims were believed to have been killed by the Juarez drug cartel, the dominant Mexican drug-trafficking organization in the mid-1990s.
He told Mexico's Televisa network that a list had been compiled naming 120 people who "hypothetically could be buried" at the two sites.One U.S. government source said authorities have uncovered some human remains in recent days. According to sources, a number of the potential victims are thought to be drug couriers who drug lords suspected of being informants.
Other victims may include people who refused to cooperate with drug traffickers or persons who witnessed illegal activity.
Clinton: Drug traffickers 'particularly vicious'
President Bill Clinton said he had not received confirmation that 22 Americans were among the victims. He condemned the killings as "a horrible example" of the excesses of Mexico's drug cartels.
"I think it reinforces the imperative of our trying not only to protect our border but to work with the Mexican authorities to try to combat these," Clinton said in Washington.
"We had a lot of success a few years ago in taking down a number of the Colombian drug cartels, and one of the adverse consequences of that was a lot of the operations were moved north into Mexico," the president said. "There are organized criminal operations there and they are particularly vicious."
Tip from informant
Mexican and U.S. authorities were tipped off about the possible mass graves by informants, a U.S. government source in Washington said.
On Monday night, dozens of armed Mexican soldiers, some wearing black ski masks, surrounded one of the ranches in a desolate area 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of Juarez.
White iron gates towered in front of the ranch, known locally as "the shooting range."
A concrete block wall covered with graffiti surrounded the rest of the property, located across the street from a junkyard. Topping the concrete wall was a chain-link fence with razor wire.
No bodies were seen being carried out. Several soldiers left the ranch with duffel bags. No one at the scene would talk to reporters.
As part of a joint investigation with Mexican authorities, FBI forensic experts will help with the identification of the remains using DNA analysis, a process expected to take several weeks.
Madrazo said a joint command center would be set up in El Paso, where the remains of victims will be brought for identification.
93 arrested in sting on Mexican drug cartel
Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI Home Page
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